Published Jun 13, 2023
Celebrating Star Trek's Most Memorable Dads
Let's raise a glass for all the father figures guiding us through the galaxy!
By Mark Newbold
It's Father's Day this weekend, when dads across the galaxy enjoy a special day of lounging, breakfasts in bed, and general pampering.
Star Trek has featured a number of memorable fathers... who raise their children in many different ways. Over the five decades of Star Trek, we've seen biological fathers, creators who are de facto dads, estranged fathers, and foster fathers.
To celebrate the big day, here's a look at a handful of Star Trek father figures.
Arguably the most inspirational father figure in all of Star Trek. After the loss of his wife Jennifer, at the Battle of Wolf 359, Benjamin Sisko raised his young son Jake alone, steering him through the devastating loss of his mother on a journey that would take father and son to Utopia Planitia shipyards, where Sisko would work on the U.S.S. Defiant and on to the Deep Space 9, and Benjamin's first command.
The seven years together on the station brought them closer together. As Jake grew into adolescence and young adulthood, so the elder Sisko also grew, from commander to captain to Emissary of the Bajoran people, a destiny that would eventually see father and son torn apart as Benjamin sacrificed himself to save Bajor, leaving his son to carry on in the world with the lessons his father imparted.
As far as legacies to live up to go, the Kelvin Timeline version of James T. Kirk had a rock to climb, born as he was, in the moments before the death of his father. George Kirk made a decision that not only saved the 800 souls of the U.S.S. Kelvin, but served as inspiration for his son James, who would battle through difficult times to join Starfleet and ultimately exceed his father’s achievements countless times.
In 12 minutes, George made decisions far beyond his rank and years, defending the crew of the Kelvin while under fire from the Narada, disabling its weapons and setting the Kelvin on a collision course that severely crippled the massive Romulan vessel. Dared by Captain Pike to join Starfleet, James Tiberius (named 'James' for his maternal grandfather and 'Tiberius' for his paternal grandfather) engaged his tenacity and daring spirit to save billions of lives.
Known throughout the galaxy by factions of every stripe as a skilled and impartial ambassador, you could be forgiven for believing that the Vulcan Sarek was better suited to the trials of diplomacy than the tribulations of fatherhood, and yet – despite the inevitable ups and downs of life - he was father to three children who would go on to have lives of deep significance.
His firstborn Sybok was the son of Sarek’s first wife, a Vulcan princess who died shortly after Sybok’s birth. His second son was Spock, a Human Vulcan hybrid who would become one of the most decorated Starfleet officers ever and a proponent for Vulcan-Romulan reunification. His third child was not of his flesh, but was certainly of his spirit. Michael Burnham, the human who shared Sarek’s stubborn streak and used it to her advantage during the U.S.S. Discovery’s mission in the Mirror Universe.
While other fathers may have physically created their progeny, there are few who could claim to have been so personally affected by their offspring’s journey as Lt. Commander Data. Keen to push the boundaries of his programming, and keenly aware of the biological process of reproduction, Data took it upon himself to create his own next generation in the form of Lal. Initially created as part of his own exploration of human emotions and to recreate the work of his own creator, Noonien Soong, Data soon came to realize that there were far more elements to raising a daughter. Regrettably, a sequence of events put stress on Lal and her neural net failed. Determined for her loss to not be in vain, Data assimilated her memories into his own neural net.
Star Trek's everyman Miles O'Brien reveled in the challenges of fatherhood. He served as transporter chief of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D before transferring to Deep Space 9, where he was chief of operations, a role that was the perfect fit for Starfleet's Mister Fix-it.
Despite his passion for the job and the long hours it brought with it, O'Brien found love with botanist Keiko Ishikawa, marrying on the Enterprise and later taking his young family, which now included daughter Molly, tothe space station where they'd take root. A devoted father, Miles managed to find that all-elusive balance between work and home life to give Molly and their son Kirayoshi the stable home they needed — even when unbelievable events happened... such as Molly falling into a time portal and returning 10 years older — and weathering his occasional spats with the fiery Keiko.
Few could have ever guessed that the first Klingon in Starfleet, a man dedicated to loyalty, honor, and the delicate balance between cultures, could have been raised on a small farming world to two most unlikely parents, Sergey Rozhenko and Helena Rozhenko. However, once we met them, it made all the sense in the world.
A former chief petty officer, Sergey was a warp core specialist aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid when he embarked on an away mission that resulted in the discovery of a young Klingon, Worf. Sergey and Helena fought to adopt the young boy, moving to Gault with their son Nikolai, who Worf would see as a brother. Firm, fair, and wise to a fault, Sergey gave Worf the stable, loving background that formed the bedrock of his ever-evolving understanding of humans. Without this barrel-chested Starfleet officer in his corner, Worf may never had the courage to brave the storm and join Starfleet.
James T. Kirk
The Prime timeline version of James T. Kirk had a distinctly different destiny to that of his Kelvin counterpart. Being further down his timeline than his younger mirror image, fatherhood raised its head. His arrival with Spock and McCoy at the research station Regula-1 brought mystery, death, and the beginning of a clash with an old enemy that would both take a brother in Spock and give him a son he never knew he had in the form of David Marcus. Ready for action, but not the great adventure of fatherhood, Kirk struggled with his new role. That future was wrenched from him just weeks later when David was murdered by the order of Klingon Commander Kruge on the Genesis planet. Ironic, that Genesis should give and take the life of his son, and take and give the life of his “brother,” Spock.
An admiral in Starfleet, Owen Paris was highly regarded throughout the Federation for his strength of conviction and strict adherence to the Prime Directive, the keystone of the United Federation of Planets. His son Thomas was also well known... for his insubordination and for his difficult path through Starfleet Academy and eventual role in the Maquis, which ultimately led to a penal colony in New Zealand.
With Janeway taking a chance on Tom and Voyager stranded in the far-distant Delta Quadrant, Admiral Paris oversaw the Pathfinder project, designed to make contact with Voyager and guide them home. Despite his disappointment with Tom, the increased contact with Voyager via the Midas Array helped melt the ice that had frozen between father and son, completing a personal journey just as Voyager ended its own galaxy-spanning trip.
Jean-Luc Picard's own painful upbringing had him shirking the thought of having a family of his own, and finding everything he needs within Starfleet. However, the retired admiral soon discovers his final frontier is fatherhood when, on a rescue mission to find Dr. Beverly Crusher, he ends up meeting Jack Crusher, his adult son, who has no interest in building a relationship with him. Along their harrowing journey, Picard expresses fear and doubt, believing he passed on all his bad traits to his son.
Despite their inability to communicate openly, and realizing they are more alike than they cared to admit, Picard sacrifices himself and plugs himself into the Collective, to be with his son. The act solidified how much they both yearned for connection, and how much their presence enhanced each other's live. Just in a nick of time, as that loving moment destroyed the Borg Queen's grip on Federation space.
So, Happy Father’s Day to the Star Trek dads… and to all the dads out there.
This article was originally published on June 16, 2018.